Posted by Dave
5 Star Support Security Specialist
You may or may not be aware of this, but Microsoft indicates that after July 11,
2006 it will no longer ship updates for, or support Windows 98, Windows 98 SE or
Windows ME. There have been a number of blogs and articles lately that indicate
users of these operating systems will be at a much higher risk level, and be
much more vulnerable and prone to attack. If you are a user of one of these
operating systems, you are no doubt a bit worried or panicky as to what to do. I
understand this completely, so I am writing this paper in order to help you out.
Having Microsoft Windows Updates and security updates no longer available to you
does not leave one with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
First, let me say I fully understand users who are still running computers with
these operating systems. Windows 98 and 98 SE have to be the most popular
operating systems on the planet for quite a few years. Many gamers still feel
Windows 98 is the system of choice to this day. The body of software written to
run on it is, by way of sheer volume, astounding. There are also many businesses
that will be reluctant to change to a newer system because they have programs in
use daily that were designed to run on Win 98 and are not compatible with newer
operating systems. Still others have Win 98 or ME in a secondary or other
computer(s) in use at home, and cannot afford to convert one or all of them to
the newer operating systems. I even know some folks who are so happy with Win 98
that they indicate they will never change. In my particular case, I work for a
company that still needs Windows 98 SE on 2 machines to run a specialized
software package that will not work with any other operating system. Newer
versions of the program are available for newer operating systems, but the
program is seldom used, so it does not make good business sense to upgrade just
to run a seldom used (once monthly) but essential program.
Given these circumstances, I feel the need to help with workable security
measures to help keep these operating systems secure. The problem is in finding
a good selection of software programs that will both keep you secure, offering
good security protection, and that the programs don’t conflict with each other.
If you look on the Internet, it becomes quickly evident that most security
software currently available is designed to run on Windows 2000 or newer. Even
Zone Lab, provider of one of the best firewalls around, indicates its released
newer versions (beginning with v 6.5) will no longer support Win 98 or ME.
That’s enough background information. Now we need to get on with the subject of
how to keep your older system properly protected. I have come up with a simple
plan for you involving five programs that are very good, offer good security,
play nicely together, are easy on system resources (going easy on system
resources is important because many computers running Win 98 and ME do not have
fast processors or tons of memory to work with), and they are all free for
personal, non-commercial use. That’s right, free. The providers of the software
indicate no foreseeable changes that will cause them to drop support for Windows
98 or ME.
1. Firewall – The best choice I am currently aware of for a good solid firewall
for Win 98 or ME is called Jetico Personal Firewall, and it is compatible with
all Windows versions from 98 to XP, including NT. It offers solid three-layer
protection (low-level, application-level, and user-level). It is available for
downloading and installation here:
The program is very easy to install and the interface makes for easy set-up and
use as well.
2. Anti-Virus – A good Anti-Virus program is an absolute necessity. It should
also be able to scan your incoming email and attachments. The solution here is
AVG Anti-Virus from Grisoft. The program is very fast, can update itself daily,
and features scheduled system scans. It scans both incoming and outgoing email
and attachments. It is definitely one of the very best AV programs available
anywhere. To get the program, you download from here:
After installation, launch the AVG Control Center and be sure to set up the
automatic update and scan features in the scheduler section. After this initial
setup, just let it do its thing and you will be all set.
Grisoft also offers an excellent, free Anti-Spyware program called Ewido, but it
only supports Windows 2000 and newer operating systems. Not to worry, we have a
plan for that too.
3. Spyware & Adware – (3 programs) if you spend any time at all on the Internet,
adware and spyware can be a very big problem. To deal with these threats, there
are three programs I can recommend. The first is AdAware SE from Lavasoft. The
download is available here:
Be sure to both update and scan with this program weekly. A tutorial on how to
use the program is available here on 5 Star Support at:
http://www.5starsupport.com/tutorial/adaware.htm and there is an available users
manual on the Lavasoft Website as well.
I also recommend you download and install Spybot Search and Destroy from Safer
Networking .Org It is a very powerful program and has an advanced user mode that
you can use once you become familiar with the program. Spybot is available for
You should remember to update the program weekly, and scan weekly as well.
Automated scanning on a pre-set schedule is available in the advanced mode,
along with many other settings. Just be sure you understand the settings and
what they do. I suggest you become very familiar with the program before using
the advanced mode.
You can also elect to download and install Tea Timer with the Spybot program.
Tea Timer continuously scans the system for any changes in the registry and
alerts you if any are found. This is good protection against hidden programs or
rootkits that will auto-run in the background when the computer boots up. If you
are an intermediate or advanced user with some knowledge of the registry in your
system, I highly recommend using the program. If you elect to use it, be sure to
also have the icon installed (during program installation) in the tool tray for
easy access. Just be sure you know and understanding what you are allowing or
denying here, as you will actually be allowing or denying registry changes. One
other very important thing will need to be remembered if you elect to use Tea
Timer. You have to remember to turn off Tea Timer if you are adding or removing
a program. Tea Timer can actually interfere with proper program installation or
uninstallation. To turn off Tea Timer, look at the tool tray in the bottom right
corner of the screen for the Spybot icon – it is blue in color and has a little
padlock in it. Right click the icon, and then choose “Exit Spybot resident”, and
you are all set to install or uninstall a program.
There is also a tutorial on using Spybot Search and Destroy here on 5 Star
Support located at:
Finally, I also recommend a program called SpywareBlaster from Javacool
software. It works with Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers, and is designed
to block spyware and adware by restricting access to known sites that install
the malware. It adds these known sites to your restricted zone in IE and Firefox.
The program can be downloaded here:
As with the programs above, you should remember to update the program weekly. No
scanning is needed as the program does not search for or uninstall malware, but
rather blocks the sites that are known for it. There is also a tutorial on using
SpywareBlaster here at 5 Star Support located at:
The above five programs should help you stay pretty safe and secure in a Windows
98 or ME environment. You just have to be sure you remember to update AVG daily,
and the spyware/adware programs weekly. I also recommend you scan with AVG
Anti-Virus daily, and with the others weekly, and you should be all set. I wish
you a continued happy and safe computing experience.
Until we meet again here on the 5 Star Support Security Center.